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Thread: P/O or F/O? Henderson 132631

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    Default P/O or F/O? Henderson 132631

    I've a little conumdrum that I wonder if anyone can help me answer.

    A civilian meteorologist, W M Henderson, was commissioned as a P/O (sn 132631) on 11 December 1942 (LG 35858, issued 8 Jan 1943). He was posted missing 8 days later, when the aircraft in which he was a passenger disappeared whilst flying to Gibraltar on 19 December 1942. One would have thought his rank at death was P/O.

    However, in the 'Missing list' in the Times on 13 March 1943 he is listed as F/O Henderson, and in the 'Previously reported "Missing" now presumed dead' list in the Times of 3 December 1943, he is again ranked as F/O.

    It is believed that his final destination was to have been Malta.

    Can anyone explain how a newly commissiond P/O can become a F/O in the space of 8 days without there being an appropriate entry in the LG?

    There's probably a simple answer, but darned if I can see it.

    Brian

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    Hi Brian
    It was not entirely unusual for personnel to be promoted wef date of death. I have seen a number of instances of this in CWGC and have also seen it mentioned on Australian Casualty Files although mostly for aircrew, even under training. Whether this was a standard practice (as a mark of respect for the deceased) I do not know but you can also find a similar thing on LG with Officers leaving the service with an Acting rank and allowed to retain it on leaving
    Regards
    Dick

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    Brian, This does not help your quest but I see that the CWGC website also lists him as FO and gives his unit as 271 Sqn. Also states that your man is buried in Cherbourg Old Communal Cemetery. I thought the answer might lie in sufficient seniority to be promoted to FO at date of death but, as you say, not so. Regards, Terry

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    Thank you Dick and Terry,

    Yes, I had seen the CWGC entry, and the reference to 271 Squadron also has me puzzled since 271 was in 33 44 Group, Ferry Command and would not have a meteorological officer on its strength. The only small piece of information I have on him comes from a page in a 1951 Meteorological Magazine that lists all the Met Office's war dead together with the theatre of operations in which they were (supposed) to have been working. Henderson is listed as 'Malta'.

    I am 99.5% sure it was a matter of convenience he is listed on the strength of 271 Sqn by virtue of being a passenger on the lost aircraft, Harrow K7011; being between postings, he was listed neither at a UK airfield nor one overseas.

    I'm currently making enquiries in Airdrie, his home town, but I wonder if Henk knows anything?

    Grateful thanks,
    Brian

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